Known as Pull Wadda of ancient times and Naushera, the city of Rahim Yar Khan is located in southern Punjab and is home to a Seraiki speaking population.
Rahim Yar Khan is a city in southern Punjab and the capital of Rahim Yar Khan District. Throughout history it has been known by various names. Believed to be the ancient Pull Wadda of the Sumras, it was also known as Naushera before its name was changed to Rahim Yar Khan.
In 1998, the Rahim Yar Khan’s population was 233,537 and it is estimated that by 2009, it was around 1.9 million. Seraiki is widely spoken throughout the district. The Indus River passes throughout the length of its western border and this allows for a variety of crops and fruits to be grown there including cotton, sugarcane, wheat, and mangoes. The district also contains part of the Cholistan Desert at its southeast end next to the Indian Border.
The city of Rahim Yar Khan has existed for a long time although its exact founding is unknown. The district itself has a very rich history. During the time of the Indus Valley Civilization, the Hakra River used to flow through the Cholistan Desert and the entire district was covered with vegetation. Later Alexander the Great conquered this area and left it under the care of General Phillipos, who was soon overthrown. It then came under Mauryan authority. In the 6th century AD the Rai dynasty of Sindh controlled this region.
After Muhammad bin Qasim came in 711 AD, this area fell under the control of the Abbasids who ruled through their governors. In the 11th and 12th centuries the Sumras of Sindh exercised authority in the region and the city was known as Pul-Wadda. Eventually it fell into the hands of the Sultans of Delhi before being taken by the Mughals. By the 16th century, Rahim Yar Khan belonged to the princely state of Bahawalpur.
In 1750, Fazal Elahi Halani, a Daudpauta chief, renamed the city as Naushera. The Sikhs under Ranjit Singh attempted to take over the territory, but the Nawab of Bahawalpur called on the British for support who thwarted them. Only in 1881 was the city’s name changed to Rahim Yar Khan after a prince of Bahawalpur, to distinguish it from a town with the same name in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. When the State of Bahawalpur joined Pakistan, Rahim Yar Khan also became part of the newly created country.
Pattan Minar, located 8 km from Rahim Yar Khan,is a small, brick tower and is the sole remains of what is believed to have been a 5,000 year old Buddhist monastery.It has a single doorway that faces west but no stairs that lead to the second story. It is believed that the tower was built in around 250 BC during the Mauryan Period and was named after Pattan Pur, a city that once existed near the River Ghagra. But as the Indus River changed course, the Ghagra River dried up and the city of Pattan Pur was eventually deserted.
In the 18th century the structure surrounding Pattan Minar was near ruin and so Fazal Elahi Halani, a Daudpota chief of that area, had it destroyed. At that time a brick with Sanskrit written on it was found but its whereabouts are now unknown. In the 19th century, Colonel Minchin, a political agent of the state of Bahawalpur, excavated the site but soon abandoned it after a few of his men died. Today it is in much dilapidated state.
Din, Malik M. Gazetteer of Bahawalpur State with Map 1904. Lahore: Sang-e-Meel, 2001.